Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Will the TRUE Church please STAND UP....!!!!

Dear Readers: I know you are probably thinking "Will this series ever end?" However, I have been inspired by God's Word, Holy Spirit, and your comments. These factors are truly forming a reformation within myself and others in the way I look at the TRUE Church and the way we should be discipling those that are sheep in the flock. It doesnt matter if you are in a city or country church, anywhere a group of believers gather in Jesus' name, that is the church. In San Diego, it can be Church on the Beach, or in Plano, TX, Church under the tree, or in Waco, Church under the Bridge, or First Baptist Church, Dallas, or Travis Avenue in Fort Worth, we should all have the same mentality about church and following Jesus leadership and plan as He has set before us. Worshipping God and Equipping and Making Disciples. Love God and Love Each Other!! I know I am going to make someone upset on this particular here goes!!

Identity Crisis #9: Most churches today are all about "theotainment". This term is "theology + entertainment" as the body of Christ meet, and we obviously have the wrong emphasis in worship.

I believe that we have the emphasis in worship all wrong. We focus on music in worship as the do-all, be-all. This is why in the last 10-15 years, most churches have faced "worship wars" over what type of music we are to have in morning worship. The thought process is that if we play contemporary music, younger people will come to the church for worship and they will be drawn by this faster paced music with guitar, bass, and drums, etc. They will truly experience worship. You heard what I said....experience worship. We have taught congregations to "experience" not to "show worth" to our Lord and Savior. Henry Blackaby writes in his "Worship" discipleship series that worship means to "show worth" to something, and in a Christians case, that is God. IMHO, This is a giving attitude, not receiving.

So, we are equipping and making disciples that are coming to be spectators of experience not servants who are humbly bowing in the presence of an Almighty God. What is even worse is that when the worship wars are in a stalemate, we create two services to make everyone happy.
The first service being "traditional" for the older people and a second, later service for the younger group that is more "contemporary". I have heard at one church, they named the second service "High Octane." The older folks are mad at the younger folks because they can't be happy with hymns, and the younger folks are mad at the older ones because they can't pick up the pace. You have two services to please everyone and split the congregation in half over music preference. Next, we will need to build two fellowship halls, one for Mexican food and one for Italian........what???? (warning: heavy sarcasm noted)

I have heard it all. When I visit someone who has left the church in past experiences, the main focus is that "we don't like the music" or "we just need the pace to pick up a little more" or "I almost fell asleep during the song service" or "I didnt know they still made organs".

Ron Owens writes in "Return to Worship: A God Centered Approach" that in the context of a worship service, music should never be "music for music's sake". As worship leaders, we are there to assist the people, through the medium of music, to encounter God. We are not there just to sing and play songs. We are not there to perform or entertain an audience; we are there to use everything at our disposal to glorify God and edify His people.

What was the most important part of gathering together in the first Church in Acts: the preaching and teaching of the Gospel!! Acts 2:42 says: "They were continually devoting themselves to the apostles' teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer."

"On the first day of the week, when we were gathered together to break bread, Paul began talking to them, intending to leave the next day, and he prolonged his message until midnight. There were many lamps in the upper room where we were gathered together."
Acts 20:7-8 (NASB95)

Don't get me wrong, they praised God, but the most important part of the gathering was preaching and teaching. People gripe and complain when we have messages over 20 minutes saying that they are inconvienienced. What are we coming for then? To show worth and glorify the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit and to be under the teachings of our Lord. Music is a tool to accomplish that, plain and simple. We are not Hollywood churches that have to have a big bang to get worship started.

When was the last time your church confessed your sin together in worship? When was the last time your church read Scripture out loud in declaration? When was the last time you had a testimony of someones life change because of God? When was the last time you took notes from the teachings of God's Word through His messenger? Do you see an emphasis of prayer in the worship service? (I really have about 100 questions along this line that don't pertain to music)

Get off the big emphasis of music and the contention it is causing in God's church. Can you not see that Satan uses that as a weapon to divide the church and to cause disunity? The focus should be on glorifying Him and preparing for that all week personally at home or at work to what you will bring in worship corporately on the Lord's Day.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Will the TRUE Church please STAND Up!!!!......#7

We live in a Christian tshirt and bumper sticker culture in church. Most are Christian's on the outside but not on the inside. We are Christians only on Sundays. That is all that is required of us to attend church and maybe Bible Study and we are checked off for the week.

#1: With his practical, positive, unpretentious, and down-to-earth teaching style, he has grown the church to an attendance of nearly two thousand each weekend.

What is the "growth" focus on? Physical growth, not spiritual. This is the key to the downfall to many pastors and churches. Some pastors like this one his ridden on the coattails and success of the physical growth of the church. The idea is that when you have critical mass, you can really do something. Like what, build more buildings, hire more staff, go on more trips, etc. I even had a pastor tell me once that physical growth equals spiritual growth. You get one as a result of the other? Do you really think so?

Which is better? Growth in numbers in Worship Attendance or in Attendance of Small Groups/Sunday School? If we are to make disciples, where is that really beginning at this church?

#2: The main priority of Pastor John Doe and his beloved wife Sally is the home. Their emphasis and commitment to their family have resulted in the strength and growth of XYZ Ministries and ABC Church. Currently, ABC Church is one church in eight locations.

The pastor and wife focus on their own family, not the family of God. But according to this statement, this results in the growth of the ministry and church they are in charge of. Shepherding the flock is the calling of the pastor. To care for the flock you have been called to not just physically, but mainly spiritually. Preaching and teaching the Word of God and the ministry of prayer is to be the means. The ends is to equip the saints. (Eph. 4:11-12)

Hey, we have eight locations because of this physical growth. Nothing is mentioned of salvations, discipleship through Bible Study, missions education and sending missionaries or church planters, ministries that people have been called to and are serving in, etc. The bread and butter of discipleship, the equipping of saints.

#3: What makes the BCD Denomination unique from other denominations is the fact that while it strongly affirms the clear teaching of the Word of God, it allows believers the personal freedom to have varying interpretations on theological issues that are not clearly presented in Scripture.

So, you be the disciple you want to be. You have the freedom to interpret how to be a disciple on your own....its your personal freedom. Nothing in this statement leads to interpret Scripture by the power of the Holy Spirit in your life. And to say that there are many interpretations of a passage of Scripture is absurd!!

We are turning our back on true discipleship!! In Luke 9:23, Jesus says that one should "deny yourself, take up your cross, and follow me." The Great Commandment says that we are to love the Lord with all of our heart, mind, soul, and strength, and to love our neighbors as ourselves. This focus is denying of ourselves type of focus, where you are submitting and serving to the Lord God with all that you are and serving others and putting them in front of yourself out of your love for them.

Changing our lives is taking up our cross. Facing temptations is taking up our cross. Working and living in the world is taking up our cross. Declaring the name of Jesus higher than any other name in our life is to face this evil world, go against the grain, and stand firm for Christ. But by taking up our cross is showing that we would die for Him if our life was required. Paul said it and was very clear on this matter!!

And finally, we are to follow our Lord no matter the cost. Forsaking All I Trust Him. The acronym for FAITH!! Hallelujah!!